In marketing sessions, we come across demographic profiling and segmentation – which are useful first steps in homing in on our customers. Yes, you need to understand age, sex, family lifecycle and socio-economic status – but as stakeholders in the industry, we also need to deliver the kind of service offerings he is looking for.
In fact, understanding a customer’s wish list can help us match their needs with the kind of timeshare experience we have to offer.
The more we know about our customers, the better we are positioned to bridge the gap between need and product experience. For us, at AIRDA, a lot of this understanding comes from the market and consumer studies conducted by us - to understand emerging trends, changing influences, and newer outcomes in the vacation landscape. And this goes a long way in helping our member resorts market timesharing offerings in a meaningful and relevant way.
In the timeshare business unlike the hotel industry, we are not selling one holiday occasion – we are pre-selling long-term relationships with the customer. And to make that happen, people need to believe in the product and be aware of relative merits in the timeshare industry.
What’s interesting and useful however is the fact that we don’t have to sell basic “vacation” concepts – people already know that, and they’ve been doing it for years. What we need to do is sell the benefits of long term returns and protection from inflation. From what I have seen, customers get to visualize relative benefits after ten or 15 years – especially when they see hotel tariffs surging ahead in comparison.
So how do we make things relevant for the customer?
Today, we have over 20 members in AIRDA’s resort network and each member has something unique to offer in terms of location, historical backdrop, tourist touch points, or something attractive like a beach location, a jungle lodge experience, or a plantation holiday.
Once the customer understands long-term gains, we could roll out what our resorts have to offer. If a customer likes beach locations, our beach front properties could be more attractive, at stage one of customer contact. If he likes mountain climbing and trekking, a hillside location will make sense, maybe with the added draw of wild water rafting, if that is possible. If a customer is spiritually inclined, we must find alignments – within the product offering, or at nearby locations.
Last month, we had a story on our website about a unique timeshare product in the making, linked to the Golden Temple - which currently attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal. The thinking here amalgamates the concepts of timeshare and pilgrim tourism – addressing the needs of Indians abroad. It’s about the homing instinct of people who would like to visit the Golden Temple as a planned get-away, at least once in the year.
Finally, I think it is also important to sell a feeling of belonging, to make customers come back every year for more of the experience. This feeling of belonging is a strong platform to build relationships around. People usually like to come back to the familiar – the resort, the people, the food and the experience.
Timeshare also has the reach to give you holidays without boundaries – helping you explore a vacation map across thousands of resorts all over the world, through exchange partners.
Guess it’s time to widen your horizon.
B. S. Rathor
Advisor & Member - Executive Committee
What does an AIRDA membership mean to resort owners and developers? AIRDA comes in as your industry partner, conscience keeper and business catalyst - with a wide portfolio of support services.
What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.